The Kansas City Chiefs lost their second consecutive game, with both coming because their defense is a sieve in all facets.
No improvement? No chance in hell.
The Kansas City Chiefs haven’t reached the Super Bowl in 50 years. Their defense is bound and determined to make sure we hit 51 without a problem.
Pointing to the offense turning three turnovers into three points is fair. Bewildered at Andy Reid’s run call on 2nd and 14 with three minutes left down 31-24? Join the club. Annoyed the offense can’t block consistently or stop incurring penalties? Another valid feeling.
Still, the defense is the main culprit. The unit is the football version of Chernobyl.
After being gauged for 180 rushing yards in a loss to the Indianapolis Colts last week, the defense doubled down and surrendered 192 yards with three scores against the Houston Texans in a 31-24 defeat.
All told, Houston totaled 472 yards and 35 first downs, and this despite three dropped touchdowns from Will Fuller. The numbers should have been far worse.
In today’s NFL, run defense isn’t all that meaningful. However, when the front hasn’t notched a sack in two weeks and the tackling looks like an overplayed Vaudeville act, it all begins to add up. At some juncture, Kansas City’s complete inability to stop rushing attacks means a comical imbalance in time of possession. In each of the past two weeks, the Chiefs have had the ball for under 10 minutes in the second half.
Additionally, allowing teams to run roughshod means the entire playbook being open. Ask a defensive coordinator the difference between 2nd and 10 compared to 2nd and 5. The same answer every time. It’s enormous.
This offseason, general manager Brett Veach conducted a full-scale rebuild. The front office brought in Emmanuel Ogbah, Alex Okafor, Damien Wilson, Darron Lee, Juan Thornhill, Bashaud Breeland and Tyrann Mathieu, among others. The results have varied personally, but collectively have not been discernibly better than last year’s 31st-ranked group.
Then there’s Frank Clark. Clark was acquired for first and second-round picks, in essence replacing Dee Ford. On passing downs, Clark has largely been a rumor. He’s in the first year of a five-year, $105 million deal.
Patrick Mahomes might end up throwing for 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns because he isn’t human. He’s on half an ankle without his Pro Bowl left tackle, and Mahomes has made water into wine much of his career. Over the past two weeks, though, the machine is being slowed. The penalties, offensive line and myth of a defense has led to the offense being mortal, and in turn, Kansas City looking like a below-average football team.
Now? A short week before taking on the Denver Broncos in Mile High. Expect to see plenty of Phillip Lindsay and Von Miller. Denver won’t be favored, but it should be considered a dangerous opponent from what we’ve seen out of Kansas City in recent weeks.
The Chiefs are 4-2 and winning the AFC West. There’s time. There’s just no reason to believe anything will change.
Top 10 nationally-underrated current players
1. Tre’Davious White, CB, Buffalo Bills
2. Brandon Brooks, OG, Philadelphia Eagles
3. Grady Jarrett, DT, Atlanta Falcons
4. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5. Kenny Clark, DL, Green Bay Packers
6. Byron Jones, CB, Dallas Cowboys
7. Jurrell Casey, DT, Tennessee Titans
8. Kawaan Short, DT, Carolina Panthers
9. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
10. Kenny Golloday, WR, Detroit Lions
“The refs are never an excuse, and I’ll probably get fined for saying this, but it was pretty bad today.”
– Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield on the officiating in Seattle’s 32-28 win.
We’ll hit the Browns lower in the column, but this is a jumping off point for a bigger issue.
The officiating is horrible. Horrendous. Putrid. Inexcusable. The list goes on. This isn’t a slam on the officials only, though. This is on the league. If every television broadcast needs a rules specialist, what are we doing? Can you imagine watching a baseball, basketball or hockey game with a rules analyst? It’s comical.
The league needs to figure this out. Simplify the rulebook. Get rid of some non-sensical ones. This needs to be fixed immediately. It’s completely out of hand.
Phil Simms and Jim Plunkett are the only Hall-of-Fame-eligible quarterbacks to win multiple Super Bowls and not be inducted.
Info learned this week
1. 49ers, Seahawks highlighting Rams’ flaws in NFC West
The Seahawks are really good. The 49ers are for real. The Rams are a mess.
Seattle won in Cleveland, earning a victory on the road against a desperate team. The loss of tight end Will Dissly hurts, but the defense is solid, Russell Wilson is the MVP through six weeks and Pete Carroll is a top-five coach.
San Francisco has a nasty front seven including a bevy of former first-round picks including Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner. The offense has a wizard calling plays in Kyle Shanahan, making all the skill position players better than they truly are. If there’s any concern, it’s about Jimmy Garoppolo.
Then there are the Rams. Los Angeles has serious problems with Todd Gurley hurt and Jared Goff playing like the version we saw under Jeff Fisher. He’s tentative, tepid in the pocket and throwing the ball into traffic. The defense doesn’t have a shutdown corner, despite trading for two. It’s been ugly, and the 3-3 mark is indicative of how the team looks.
Oh, and Los Angeles has already lost to the Seahawks and 49ers. Rough sledding ahead.
2. Texans looking like contender in AFC because of Watson
Houston is flawed, but it’s the AFC. Every flawed team with talent has the argument for biggest threat to New England.
We saw why the Texans are dangerous on Sunday in a 31-24 upset win over Kansas City. Deshaun Watson didn’t throw for 300 yards and tossed a pair of ill-advised picks. Still, Watson made enough big plays with his arm and legs. The offensive line didn’t allow a sack for a second straight week and ran for just shy of 200 yards. The defense was solid, despite being without it top two corners for much of the game.
Houston certainly has its issues. The secondary is largely suspect and the offensive line is a consistent concern, even after a few flawless weeks. Still, it’s worth remembering that Houston was a 58-yard field goal away from beating the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome. This could easily be a 5-1 team with road wins in New Orleans and Kansas City. Damn impressive.
3. Browns are facing crisis point with turnovers, Kitchens
Nobody has been more disappointing than the Browns. The reasons are many.
Cleveland is 2-4 after losing 32-28 to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, giving it an 0-3 home record. The Browns have been bedeviled by turnovers, with Baker Mayfield throwing another three interceptions to give him 11 through six weeks. It’s been hideous.
On the sideline, head coach Freddie Kitchens is looking increasingly like a one-and-done candidate.
Kitchens’ ineptitude is best exemplified by a fourth-quarter sequence on Sunday. Trailing 25-20 with 11 minutes left, the Browns faced 3rd and GOAL from the Seattle 1-yard line. Kitchens called a run play into the line. It was stopped. Kitchens challenged. He lost the challenge. Kitchens called for the same play on fourth down. It was stopped again.
Cleveland now enters its bye week with myriad issues to fix. Might take two bye weeks. Or an offseason.
4. Vikings getting right, while Eagles have issues on both sides
Remember when Stefon Diggs wanted a trade? Shows how quick things change in the NFL.
Minnesota improved to 4-2 with a 38-20 win over the Eagles, and suddenly looks like the contender we thought the Vikings would be this summer. After struggling mightily to run the ball a year ago, Dalvin Cook is running amok. Kirk Cousins, who had three touchdown passes in four games, has notched seven in the last two. In that span, Diggs has caught 10 balls for 211 yards with three scores.
So what changed? Cousins is pushing the ball downfield, the defense is forcing turnovers and the running game is continuing to bludgeon opponents. Also, the New York Giants and Eagles have two of the league’s worst secondaries. This brings us to Philadelphia…
At 3-3, the Eagles aren’t finished. They aren’t thriving, either. Philadelphia needs more from the secondary, which is to say, anything at all. If there isn’t immediate pressure, the Eagles are giving up a chunk play.
The good news? The NFC East is a tire fire. The bad news? Philadelphia currently fits right in.
5. Saints look like most complete team in the league
Drew Brees has missed four games. The Saints have won them all.
New Orleans improved to 5-1 with a 13-6 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, largely riding a tremendous defensive showing. On a day where 35,000 Gardner Minshew mustaches were given out at the gates, the Saints held the genuine article to 14-of-29 for 163 yards and an interception.
Without Brees, the Saints are averaging 17 points per game allowed. Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t been driving play save his four-touchdown performance against Tampa Bay, but he has avoided big mistakes. With Brees coming back in a few weeks, he’ll be rejoining a Saints team now confident in all its other facets.
New Orleans was terrific before Brees tore a thumb ligament. It’s far more deadly now.
The Miami Dolphins are a punching bag in the AFC East these days. It wasn’t always that way.
Against the New York Jets, New England Patriots and Bills, the Dolphins racked up a 47-13 in the 1970s. Miami reached the playoffs seven times. The other trio combined for three.
Rumors are flying regarding Mike Tomlin and the Washington Redskins. Don’t buy the hype.
Tomlin has been head man for the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2006. He’s worked for the most stable ownership football has to offer in the Rooney Family.
Case in point: Tomlin is only the third head coach in Pittsburgh since 1969. Since Daniel Snyder took over the Redskins in 1999 he has rifled through seven head coaches, excluding interim tags.
Money talks, and if Snyder offers a mint, maybe Tomlin sees a parachute job into media work or retirement. A Virginia native, Tomlin has ties to the area. Those two factors should be accounted for but not seen as deciding.
Tomlin is also signed through 2021, meaning Washington would need to acquire him via trade or hope Pittsburgh fires him. History — and five decades worth — says Tomlin being fired is unlikely.
Ultimately, the Redskins are a dysfunction palooza run by Snyder and right-hand crony, Bruce Allen. Tomlin would be trying to fix an entire organization, not a roster. Daunting to say the least.
In Pittsburgh, Tomlin needs to identify a new quarterback. He needs to fight becoming stale.
Both of those are easier tasks than what he would face with the Redskins.